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Isn't it time to reform our election process?

 
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2004 03:33 pm
Setanta wrote:
Therefore, a complete overhaul of this section of the constitution and of the applicable portions of amendments XII and XX would be necessary, which is to say, one would be obliged to amend the constitution. The two dominant political parties have a vested interest in preserving the electoral status quo, so this is unlikely to happen.

I certainly agree with that last statement, but I don't think a run-off system would necessitate an overhaul of the constitution -- unless, of course, FreeDuck is suggesting we do away with the electoral college (in that case we'd need a major overhaul of the constitution). If we can be satisfied with run-offs at the state level, however, we could do that without altering the constitution at all.

The constitution says remarkably little about the actual process of voting for the president. Indeed, the constitution never says that the president has to be elected by anyone but the members of the electoral college (compare that to Article I, sec. 2, which mandates that the House of Representatives "shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States"). Now, as to who exactly elected the electors -- the constitution is silent.

In fact, in the early Republic some states had their legislatures choose electors (I believe South Carolina was the last state to do this), so there was no popular vote in those states for president. Likewise, there is nothing in the constitution mandating a "winner-take-all" system for awarding electors; states are free to award electoral votes in whatever manner they see fit (as is evidenced by Maine and Nebraska, which award electors by congressional district rather than statewide poll results).

Nor is there a constitutional requirement that elections for president be held on a single day (electors, on the other hand, must meet on a single day: see Article II, sec. 1). Again, in the early Republic election days were held at various times, and sometimes spread over several days. The familiar "first Tuesday after the first Monday in November" election date was only established in 1845, pursuant to congressional legislation. So if Congress decided to hold a general election and then a run-off election, there would be no need to amend the constitution.

Furthermore, there would be no need to amend the constitution in order to institute an "instant run-off" system, like the kind of system currently in place in Australia. A state would only need to change its own electoral laws; there would be no need for federal approval.

So, as long as the voting process ended up with electors who would meet on a single day to cast their votes for president (according to the requirements of Article II and the Twelfth Amendment), there is a surprising amount of leeway available for the states and Congress to alter the election laws. On the other hand, I agree with you, Set: in the end, it ain't gonna' happen.
0 Replies
 
au1929
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2004 06:50 am
I would like to see one person one vote. However, short of that, I think the winner take all {electoral votes] should be abolished. They should be split up and issued to each candidate based on his percentage of the popular vote in that state. If I am not mistaken that is done presently in several states
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2004 08:12 am
au1929 wrote:
I would like to see one person one vote. However, short of that, I think the winner take all {electoral votes] should be abolished. They should be split up and issued to each candidate based on his percentage of the popular vote in that state. If I am not mistaken that is done presently in several states

You are mistaken. Currently, Maine and Nebraska apportion electoral votes by awarding one electoral vote to the winner of the popular vote in each congressional district, and two electoral votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote. Although this system could yield electoral vote totals that more closely resemble the popular vote percentages that each candidate receives, it's still an all-or-nothing approach (albeit on a smaller scale). No state currently apportions electors based on percentages of statewide popular vote totals.
0 Replies
 
au1929
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2004 08:28 am
Joe
Notwithstanding, what is your opinion regarding states awarding electoral votes in proportion to the popular vote.
0 Replies
 
Scrat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2004 10:01 am
FreeDuck wrote:
I could argue that 40% of eligible voters doesn't vote because they don't like what's on the ballot...

You could argue that, but I'd challenge you to support the statement with something other than the fact that you think it's true.

FreeDuck wrote:
Yes, I can vote for any party I want, if they can get on the ballot.

Then work to get them on the ballot. Or is what you want supposed to be easy?

FreeDuck wrote:
Just because other people 'don't want what I want' doesn't mean that I should have no representation.

You're right, it doesn't; but then you have representation, don't you? Or can I claim to lack representation because my representative is a Democrat and I'd have preferred the Republican in his place? Your right to representation is NOT a right to having the voting go the way you want. Once again, we see that your complaint seems to be that your choice doesn't win. That's always the way it works for a lot of people. Get over it.

FreeDuck wrote:
And I don't agree with you that partisanship equals conviction. You seem to be implying that only Democrats and Republicans can have conviction and that any third party candidate would not.

I can't be held responsible for what you think I "seem to be implying". I can tell you that I meant nothing of the sort. I want every leader to have the courage of his or her convictions; that is only limited to the 2 most popular parties in your mind, not in mine.

FreeDuck wrote:
First of all, you are assuming that I have a party affiliation.

My apologies then. Substitute "candidate of your choice" anywhere I wrote "party", okay?

FreeDuck wrote:
And from the tone of your argument I get the hunch you are assuming even more than that. If people are really happy with the two major parties, then what's the harm in letting other parties have a shot?

OTHER PARTIES ALREADY HAVE A SHOT. You might have a legitimate complaint that the MEDIA don't give lots of parties and candidates coverage that might help those parties or candidates get their message out, but with a free press I'm unsure how to solve that problem aside from supporting those candidates and parties and clamoring to get their voices heard. The media will do what it thinks is in its best interests. If you want to work to get the media to open their "doors" to a broader range of political voices in this country, I will stand side-by-side with you in the effort.

If you think this country needs another strong party then get behind another party and help make it strong, but don't ask me to support the idea that the government should tilt the scales to favor the least popular ideas in the political spectrum.

And FWIW, I'm a libertarian. I'd love to see the Libertarian or Constitution parties fair better at the poles. I support their efforts to have greater access to debates, the media, etc. -- though those latter are problems (here we may agree) with the media and associated businesses unwillingness to give those voices equal time. But that's a problem with the media, not a problem with our election system or our system of government.

FreeDuck wrote:
You seem to think that ballots are like a free market. I wouldn't like it if I had the choice between two equally bad grocery stores to shop from.

Well, I'd hope that if that were your situation you'd gather some capital and open a non-crappy store and offer people a real choice, instead of standing in line at the crappy store complaining about your lack of choices.

And FWIW, I think ballots are EXACTLY like a free market. In my area I've seen great little stores with great ideas go belly up due to not being able to compete with Wal-Mart, Target, etc.. That's reality. Sometimes good ideas lose out to efficiency and economies of scale. In November I will be free to cast my vote for the Libertarian candidate and show my support for libertarian ideals or I can vote for the Republican candidate to help safeguard this country against the damage I think the Democrat candidate would do if elected. You want to complain that I have no choice, when in fact I do. It's just up to me to decide how to use that choice.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2004 11:09 am
au1929 wrote:
Joe
Notwithstanding, what is your opinion regarding states awarding electoral votes in proportion to the popular vote.

I wouldn't have any problem with that. I don't think the constitution would permit a state to award fractional electoral votes, but as long as a state awarded full electoral votes, based on the statewide popular vote percentages, there would be no need to amend the constitution.
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2004 12:09 pm
Quote:

I can't be held responsible for what you think I "seem to be implying". I can tell you that I meant nothing of the sort. I want every leader to have the courage of his or her convictions; that is only limited to the 2 most popular parties in your mind, not in mine.


...except that you said:
Quote:

No, nor do I agree with you that a lack of conviction amongst our representatives would be a good thing. (It is conviction that causes those "pissing matches".) Take a look at parliaments around the globe, and you'll find not just pissing matches as you term it but outright acts of violence. More voices doesn't mean a quieter exchange, nor does it necessarily mean a better product.


..regarding this:
Quote:

Don't you think it would be a lot harder to have the Rep/Dem pissing matches in Congress and in the Senate and in the Media if there were more than two parties with power?


How you read what I said and determined that I was saying that a lack of conviction amongst our representatives is a good thing, I'll never know. In fact, I'm having difficulty following you in general. In order to stay in a conversation with you I have to read your posts over and over just trying to figure out how you reached your conclusions based on the things I actually said. It's like saying to someone, 'what time is it?' and them answering 'it's a peanut butter sandwich'.

My point is and will remain that changing the way we allocate our electoral votes, state by state, so that it more accurately reflects the popular vote would be more inclusive of third parties and good for the country in general. This could be achieved by instant runoff or a ballot which allows ranking of candidates, or maybe some other way. Who knows? But I think it is something worth looking into. And I just might try to find a way to get that done here in my home state.
0 Replies
 
Scrat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2004 01:55 pm
And my point remains that changing the system so that the results are more to your liking is not something I'm going to get behind. (And if you have trouble following that, I'm going to have to assume its not a failing on my part.)

Oh, and it's a peanut butter sandwich. :wink:
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2004 02:54 pm
Quote:
And my point remains that changing the system so that the results are more to your liking is not something I'm going to get behind.


If by 'more to my liking' you mean more representative of the electorate then I guess that would be something you'd have trouble getting behind.

Take that with jelly!
0 Replies
 
Scrat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2004 03:55 pm
I understand what you want and that you think you speak for all voters.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2004 04:07 pm
Scrat
Is it necessary for you to be so damn belligerent. It seems wherever you visit a war breaks out.
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Scrat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Aug, 2004 04:45 pm
Au - Your tendency to attempt to manage the behavior of others rather than just stewarding your own is one of the primary reasons I've stayed away from this site. Thanks for reminding me that I have far better things to do with my time.
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2004 04:26 pm
Scrat wrote:
I understand what you want and that you think you speak for all voters.



I understand what you grunt and that you drink to leak on tall roters.

Laughing
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2004 06:34 pm
I'd like to thank joefromchicago for saying what i was apparently unable to regarding the spirit of my original question for this thread. You really sum it up quite nicely, joe.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2004 11:42 am
Thanks, FreeDuck.

Here's a story that is rather timely:

Colo. Weighs Proportional Electoral Votes

DENVER - A plan to scrap the winner-take-all system of allocating electoral votes in Colorado is heading to the ballot in November.

If passed, Amendment 36 would make Colorado the first state to allocate electoral votes proportionately according to the popular vote, rather than giving a winner all of the state's electoral votes.

More here
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2004 11:57 am
Very interesting and, as you said, timely.
0 Replies
 
au1929
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2004 12:11 pm
Joe
Do you think they read my post? Rolling Eyes
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2004 12:20 pm
au1929 wrote:
Joe
Do you think they read my post? Rolling Eyes

Well, according to the story, the opposition to the measure is styled "Coloradans Against a Really Stupid Idea" (my nomination, by the way, for the absolute best name of a political interest group EVER). So maybe you shouldn't take too much credit for the idea, au :wink:
0 Replies
 
Centroles
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2004 03:27 pm
Instant Run Off Voting is a very very good idea. And I do hope that states begin to adopt it.

Ignore Scrat, he seems to care more about Nader not being able to take votes from Democrats than about people actually being able to vote their hearts without having to fear that the vote will be wasted.
0 Replies
 
 

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